Exclusive: Trump attorneys negotiate with Justice Department on January 6 crime investigation

Negotiations revolved around whether Trump could shield conversations he had as president from federal investigators.

In recent weeks, investigators have aggressively entered Trump’s orbit, subpoenaing former top White House officials, focusing on efforts to overturn the 2020 election and carrying out investigations. consider attorneys who have sought to support those efforts.

The Trump team’s discussions were with the US attorney’s office in Washington, DC, the agency in charge of the investigation and top prosecutor Thomas Windom January 6, the sources said. The chats have not been reported before.

At this stage, conversations are largely centered on whether any communications that witnesses from the Trump West Wing have with the former president can be kept off the federal criminal grand jury under a federal criminal law. Trump’s claim of executive privilege or not, the people said.

The Justice Department has predicted a court battle with Trump over executive privilege. The problem arose when grand jury subpoenas were issued to two former White Houses law office official and to Vice President Mike Pence’s former chief adviser and chief of staff.

Sources told CNN.

Several members of Trump’s legal team have discussed his potential defense strategies at least twice in recent months, according to two sources familiar with the matter, as they prepared for the move. New developments in the Justice Department investigation and a separate investigation by Georgia officials into the criminal may have interfered with the state’s 2020 election results. Rolling Stone previously reported that Trump was briefed.

Sources said Trump asked his lawyers if they really believed he would face formal charges. However, the former president has expressed severe skepticism that he will be prosecuted, one of the sources familiar with the matter said.

A source close to the former president told CNN that Trump has also questioned a potential indictment to members of his inner circle, some of whom believe the President is concerned about the possibility of impeachment. federal charges.

However, one person close to Trump said he’s significantly more engaged talking to friends and advisers about the 2022 midterms and the possible 2024 presidential campaign than he is. with legal strategy briefings.

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The person described the former President as evasive in conversations about his legal troubles, often repeating the “witch hunt” mantra as he announced the various polls he faced. face is clearly controlled by political opponents.

A Trump spokesman said in a statement to CNN: “It is clear that there is a concerted effort to undermine important, Constitution-based Executive and Attorney-Client Privileges through repression. Political parties.”

“How can any future President converse privately with his or her attorneys, advisors and other senior advisers if any such adviser is coerced, during or after the Presidency? , before an unelected committee or other entity, and forced to disclose those privileged, confidential discussions?” the spokesperson said. “President Trump will not be deterred by witch hunts or kangaroo courts from continuing to defend and fight for America, our Constitution, and the Truth.”

The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Mark Meadows could be the main witness

In recent months, the former President has ignored advice from some of his advisers to avoid speaking to former and current aides who have become entangled in the House selection committee’s investigation into the matter. 6 and could become part of a criminal investigation, people familiar with the matter told CNN.

Trump is particularly advised to cut off contact with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, whose actions leading up to and on the day of the uprising in the United States Congress have come under scrutiny by the House panel.

Two of Meadows’ former top aides, Cassidy Hutchinson and Alyssa Farah Griffinhas also been very critical of Trump, with Hutchinson testifying about the damaging details of Trump’s actions on January 6 in her public testimony before the House panel in June. Hutchinson is also cooperating. in the DOJ poll.

Some Trump attorneys believe Meadows may also be on the radar of investigators and fear he could become an actual witness if he is pushed to cooperate in the Justice Department investigation. , according to two people familiar with the matter.

In response, Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger, told CNN on Thursday: “All of that is frivolous and ignorant speculation, obviously by people who know little but talk a lot.”

Former White House attorney Ty Cobb said Meadows was “perfectly positioned to be the John Dean of this mess,” referring to former aide Richard Nixon, who gave key public testimony during the hearing. Watergate ceiling.

“Reason [Meadows] Valuable is also the reason he’s in danger: He’s basically been to Trump’s right in all of these exercises and engaged in important meetings and phone calls,” he said. Cobb said.

However, according to a source close to the relationship, Trump and Meadows spoke several times. A source close to Trump described their relationship as “not what it used to be” when they worked in the White House, but insisted they still maintain a relationship, even as Trump has complained about Meadows in the past. recent conversations with other allies.

Meadows is known to have attended events and raised funds at the former President’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, where he also helped organize a fundraiser last April for the The Conservative Partnership Institute, a group he runs with former Republican Senators. Jim DeMint.

Securing Trump’s Approval for US Senate Candidate Ted Budd “was the last time Meadows was actually present on a regular basis. Since then, he has never been a big part of political activism or [Trump’s] a second person close to Trump said.

CNN’s Pamela Brown and Zachary Cohen contributed to this report.

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